How much power does my mini PC use?

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There are a few misunderstandings around when it comes to mini PCs and the amount of power they consume.

While you can get a basic ‘order of magnitude’ idea of the power required by looking at the power brick rating, that will only give you a worst-case scenario.

Most TV stick and STB mini PCs come with either a direct-connect AC power brick or a USB phone charger-style power brick, either way, usually with a rating of 5VDC/2A. In simple terms, that’s 5V DC (direct current) with a maximum current rating of two amps.

Note that we said ‘maximum’ – the thing with electronic devices is that while the voltage is fixed, the current will vary depending on the needs of the device, in this case our mini PC. In practice, your mini PC should never require two-amps of current – frankly, if it does, there’s something wrong.

The general rule for mini PC power consumption is that current goes up as you ask your mini PC to process more complex data – so it sitting idle on the Android desktop won’t use up much current; playing movies a reasonable amount; playing games will usually push it to its limits.

You’ll find that sitting idle on the Android desktop should require no more than around 350-450mA (0.35 to 0.45A) of current for most mini PCs – that’s around 1.8 to 2.4-watts. Movie playback and gaming will increase that current, based on the complexity of the game, the screen or movie resolution.

If you try to power your mini PC from a standard computer USB port, the mini PC might start well enough but as the current draw rises, you may hit the limit of the USB port and the mini PC resets. That’s why you need to use good AC mains power bricks or a decent-capacity battery power source to get your mini PC running reliably.

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